People get sick. And as a law, employees can take medical leave so that they can recover from their illness. Some people take two or three days – whereas others take longer leaves, depending on the gravity of their condition.
When someone seems to take too many medical leaves in a row, the employers are starting to ask themselves this question: is it worth it to accept this person back, considering that they are always on leave?
Under some circumstances – such as fraud, misconduct, poor performance, or the position is fully eliminated, an employee can be fired during the leave. But if you did not necessarily plan to fire that person before going on leave, it might turn out to be a bad idea. Here’s why:
- It Can Get You Sued for Wrongful Termination
The law protects those who go on medical leave – and they cannot be fired for the fact that they simply got sick. Therefore, if they see the notification that they got laid off exactly because they went on medical leave, they might hire an attorney and sue their employer for wrongful termination.
This might not be a concern if the employer already planned on firing the person – but if the decision is solely based on the fact that they went on leave, it will most likely lead to a lawsuit – one that the employer will lose.
- It’s a Troublesome Process
When an employer fires someone on medical leave, they will have to prove that their decision has nothing to do with the fact that they were on leave. They will have to bring the paperwork necessary to state their reasoning, to prove that the behavior is bad for the business, or that their job is no longer in existence. It’s a much more troublesome process than if they terminate while the employee is still at work.
- You Can Be Accused of Discrimination
If an employer fires someone on medical leave, it can lead to a series of other fallen dominos. For instance, if the person is disabled or of color, they might be accused of discrimination and racism – which once more, it can lead to another lawsuit.
- It May Not be Practical
Let’s say that you fired a person simply because the company changed and their job was removed. If the employee is not there, how can they prove that they are not useful somewhere else? They might be firing a good employee simply because they were not there to defend themselves.
- It’s Simply Not Legal
Legally speaking, unless you had a reason to fire that person before they went on leave, it is not possible to fire someone. If you have proof, then you can proceed with the plan. If not, the layoff can be nullified, and it can also lead to a lawsuit.
If you are an employer, it is not recommended to fire someone on medical leave – unless you have proof that your reason for firing them has nothing to do with the leave. However, if you are an employee, you might want to seek attorney assistance if you’ve been fired after taking medical leave. Most of the time, the law will be on your side.